Margaret Atwood is my favourite poet and for me her novels never reach the heights that her poetry achieves. The Handmaid's Tale is a disturbing glimpse into a possible future America where women have become purely breeding machines to re-populate a world devastated by the effects of nuclear fall-out and too many 'unnatural' women having decided to not have children. A world where women are banned from reading and where Scrabble is the equivalent of an illicit drug. The novel explores life under an oppressive regime and throws up a lot of interesting questions about how much the oppressed collude in their own oppression. However, I found myself constantly distracted by what seemed to me an unlikely timeline, I think if she'd taken out references to the actual 1970s and 1980s the reader may have been able to suspend more disbelief and work out timelines to their own satisfaction. My partner says this problem just proves I don't read enough Science Fiction and Fantasy, but I pointed out that although this book is described as Science Fiction and is actually Futuristic Fantasy it's marketed as Fiction and most readers will be coming with a background in Atwood's previous books rather than in genre SF/Fantasy novels.
It's an interesting novel to read, but in future I'll stick to her poetry!